New Hartley is a thriving ex-mining village of around 2,000 residents in South East Northumberland, north of Whitley Bay. The village boasts a vibrant community with a lively social club featuring a community garden and music venue, a pub, two churches, village shops, and various cultural and educational initiatives. Renowned for the mining disaster of 1862, extensive research on the tragedy is available online and in local archives and museums. The current community honors this legacy by maintaining the Memorial Gardens and Path. They have also formed a new Heritage Research Group, supported by the WEA, to explore, share, and document the "hidden layers and wider fields of local history and heritage." This group aims to enhance their research, archiving, publication, and dissemination skills.

The group meets regularly at the New Hartley Residents’ Social Club for skill-sharing events and talks. They collaborate to build local history walks and heritage trails, creating an archive of local stories for everyone to share and learn from.

To join in with activities of the New Hartley Heritage Research Group, email [email protected] for details.

Read the latest minutes and study updates from the group here. Archive meeting minutes will appear here as the group progresses.

New Hartley is widely known for the mining disaster of January 16, 1862, in which 204 men and boys lost their lives. This tragedy is remembered for the immense loss, the heroism of rescue attempts, and the lasting impact on the surviving villagers. It also led to crucial legislation in the United Kingdom and worldwide, mandating two mining shafts for each coal mine to provide an alternative escape route in case of an accident. This safety measure has saved many lives since.

The villagers of New Hartley honor the legacy of the disaster by preserving the Hester Pit Memorial Path and Garden, along with other local monuments. To further this effort, they have formed a Heritage Research Group (HRG), supported by the Workers’ Education Association (WEA), to develop research skills and explore broader aspects of local history and heritage

A sketch showing coffins being pulled by horses post-Hartley disaster
A plaque commemorating the Hartley disaster

The New Hartley Heritage Research Group is currently exploring a diverse range of themes, including aerial photography and Iron Age emplacements, natural heritage encompassing geology, nature reserves, wildlife, and plant species history, bottle digging, the evolution of topography and town/agricultural landscapes through historical maps, the role of churches and religions such as the Benedictine mission, New Hartley's history since the pit disaster and its community evolution, food production from field to table, land ownership and notable families like the Delaval family, farm labour and tied cottages, survival strategies during strikes including poaching and community cooperation, family history and county records, local mines, and green traditions in local pit villages.

To join in with activities of the New Hartley Heritage Research Group, email [email protected] for details.